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Christmas changed forever as a third of people with dementia are unable to visit loved ones and 25% are no longer able to recognise family members.

For some families in Merseyside, Christmas has changed forever - over a third of people with dementia in the North West are unable to visit loved ones and 29% are no longer able to recognise family members.

Christmas will never be same for 65% of current carers who say dementia has “robbed” them of a carefree and joyful festive season, a new survey from Alzheimer’s Society reveals today. Over 100,000 people in the North West are living with dementia.

The results from the survey lay bare the devastation caused by dementia, highlighting the emotional and physical impact of the terminal disease on families at Christmas. The charity is releasing these figures as it launches its Christmas Appeal.

It found that since 2022, one third of people with dementia are cut off and unable to visit loved ones, while one in four (24%) people with dementia are no longer able to take part in any Christmas activities and a quarter no longer recognise family or friends.

Tragically, one in five (21%) are unable to hold a conversation with loved ones.

The charity also reports that caring for a loved one with dementia at Christmas is taking its toll on carers. Of the dementia carers surveyed in the North West, 36% said they felt more emotionally drained and 14% felt more physically exhausted.

64-year-old Phill Harding, who lives in Southport, was diagnosed with Frontotemporal dementia in August 2022. He says;

“I love Christmas and have always cooked the Christmas dinner. I’m determined not to let my diagnosis get in the way so I still cook it, even if my approach is a bit different.’ He explains:

“The main problem I have is that now I have to write out a full set of instructions to follow for the whole morning's cooking. I need someone to check up on me every now and then but otherwise we have just adapted to this format. It's still a great time of year, and once again I'll be cooking and enjoying the festivities.”

Phill started to notice the signs as early as ten years before he was diagnosed as he felt he had ‘lost his edge and wasn’t as sharp’ in his job as a design engineer.

Phill explains: “When I had the diagnosis I felt blasted away. It was a bad piece of news to hear. I just kept thinking what am I going to do? But then I thought well, what can I do about it? And realised I can’t do anything about the diagnosis but I can change my lifestyle habits. So, I’ve stopped drinking completely. I’ve changed my diet and exercise has helped a great deal. I feel by doing this it’s helped. I’ve certainly not felt any worse.’

He continues: “I have good days and bad days. But I try and keep perspective. I see people who are worse off than me and I am not bitter or angry. I try not to feel sorry for myself.”

Kate Lee, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society said: “One in three people born today will develop dementia in their lifetime. Christmas should be joyful but for many of the 900,000 people living with dementia and their families, their Christmases have changed forever.

“Too many people are facing dementia alone. We want everyone affected by dementia to know that whoever you are, whatever you’re going through, you can turn to Alzheimer’s Society for help.

“Over a quarter of carers 27% we spoke to say the greatest Christmas gift they could receive would be talking to someone who understands. Our Dementia Advisers are just a call or a click away. They can give someone the guidance, advice, and empathy they desperately need.

“If you’re able to, please help us be there for everyone living with dementia this Christmas whatever the day brings, by donating to our Christmas Appeal.”

Meera Syal CBE and Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador said: “I know only too well the devasting impact of dementia after my father died due to the condition, and earlier this year I also lost my mother to a rare form of dementia.

“Our family cared for our parents for over a decade and so understand how emotionally draining and physically exhausting this can be for carers. It’s devastating to know how many other people up and down the UK have reached breaking point.

“I encourage everyone who can this festive season to donate to Alzheimer’s Society’s Christmas Appeal. You will be making a difference to the lives of thousands of people affected by dementia, and that is the greatest gift of all.”

Alzheimer's Society vows to help end the devastation caused by dementia. For support or to donate to the '12 Days of Christmas'?appeal?visit www.alzheimers.org.uk/Christmas